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Publication numberUS5144342 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 07/798,341
Publication dateSep 1, 1992
Filing dateNov 20, 1991
Priority dateJun 9, 1989
Fee statusPaid
Also published asDE69006544D1, DE69006544T2, DE69006544T3, EP0402172A1, EP0402172B1, EP0402172B2
Publication number07798341, 798341, US 5144342 A, US 5144342A, US-A-5144342, US5144342 A, US5144342A
InventorsHiroshi Kubota
Original AssigneeSharp Kabushiki Kaisha
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Head for ink-jet printer
US 5144342 A
Abstract
A head for an ink-jet printer includes an elastic plate, a wall member defining an ink chamber together with the elastic plate, a nozzle provided in the wall member and communicated with the chamber, and a piezoelectric element. The piezoelectric element is shaped in a plate, has a side face, which defines a thickness of the piezoelectric element, and is disposed such that the side face faces the elastic plate. The piezoelectric element presses the elastic plate at the side face by an expansion due to a piezoelectric effect in a direction toward the side face. The head further includes electrodes attached to the piezoelectric element for applying an electric voltage across the piezoelectric element so as to cause the piezoelectric effect.
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Claims(10)
What is claimed is:
1. A head for ink-jet printer comprising:
an elastic plate;
a plurality of walls defining a plurality of ink chambers together with said elastic plate;
a plurality of nozzles, each being provided in one of said walls and each of said nozzles being in communication with one of said chambers;
a base block including a base plate portion which is disposed parallel to said elastic plate at an opposite side of said walls, and a plurality of frame member portions each shaped in a plate, each of which is disposed perpendicular to said elastic plate and connected to said base plate portion at one end thereof and attached to said elastic plate at another end thereof at a position of said elastic plate corresponding to a boundary of said chambers;
a plurality of piezoelectric elements, each shaped in a plate, having a side face, which defines a thickness of said piezoelectric elements, and disposed such that opposes said elastic plate at each of said chambers for pressing said elastic plate at said side faces by an expansion due to a piezoelectric effect in a direction toward said side faces, said peizoelectric elements and said frame member portions being arranged alternatively on said base plate portion and in parallel to each other; and
electrode means attached to each of said piezoelectric elements for applying an electric voltage across each of said piezoelectric elements so as to cause said piezoelectric effect.
2. A head according to claim 1, wherein each of said piezoelectric elements comprises lead titanate zirconate.
3. A head according to claim 1, wherein siad piezoelectric elements and said base block are integrally formed.
4. A head according to claim 1, wherein said elastic plate is made of material selected from the group consisting of stainless steel and glass.
5. A head according to claim 1, further comprising driving means connected to said electrode means for driving siad piezoelectric elements by supplying an electric pulse to said electrode means.
6. A head according to claim 1, wherein each of said electrode means comprises a pair of electrodes disposed on both planes of each of said piezoelectric elements, said peizoelectric elements pressing said elastic plate by an expansion due to a piezoelectric lateral effect.
7. A head according to claim 1, wherein each said electrode means comprises a signal electrode interposed in each of said peizoelectric elements in parallel to said side face, and a pair of ground electrodes, one of which is disposed on said side face and the other of which is disposed on a face opposite to each siad side face of said peizoelectric elements, said piezoelectric elements pressing said elastic plate by an expansion due to a piezoelectric vertical effect.
8. A head according to claim 7, wherein each of said peizoelectric elements comprises layered green sheets containing lead titanate zirconate, said signal electrode comprising a nickel layer interposed between said green sheets.
9. A head according to claim 1, wherein said base block is attached to said elastic plate at said frame member portions by an epoxy adhesive.
10. A head according to claim 3, wherein said piezoelectric element and said frame member portion adjacent to each other are spaced from each other by a predetermined distance by a recess formed therebetween.
Description

This is a continuation of copending application Ser. No. 07/533,579 filed on Jun 19, 1990, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a head for an ink-jet printer.

2. Description of the Related Art

Ink-jet printers are known as one kind of terminal equipment for computers. Heads for on-demand type ink-jet printers which utilize piezoelectric elements as actuators are classified into two major types, namely into bimorph-type heads and piston-type heads.

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing a bimorph-type head. The illustrated bimorph-type head has an ink chamber defined by stainless sheets 2 which are combined in layers, and a piezoelectric element 3. The piezoelectric element 3 has two electrode sheets 8a and 8b for application of voltage, and they are disposed to extend across the opposite flat faces of the piezoelectric element 3. An ink chamber 4 and a nozzle 5 communicate with each other through an ink supply chamber 6, and the ink supply chamber 6 also communicates with an ink supply channel 7. In general form, a plurality of heads each having the above-described arrangement are disposed in opposition to the surface of a recording sheet and a plurality of the nozzles 5 are therefore arranged in opposition to the same surface.

The operation of the bimorph-type head will be explained below. When a voltage is applied across the electrodes 8a and 8b of the piezoelectric element 3, the piezoelectric element 3 contracts in the transverse direction indicated by arrows 9 shown parallel to the respective electrodes 8a and 8b to deform one of the stainless sheets 2 which is attached directly to the piezoelectric element 3, thereby expelling a jet of ink droplets from the nozzle 5. Each of the heads is made to independently perform the above-described operation, thereby enabling information to be recorded.

The piston-type head will be explained below. FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing a particular piston-type head. The illustrated piston-type head has an ink chamber 11, a piston 12 and a piezoelectric element 13. The piezoelectric element 13 has two electrode sheets 17a and 17b for application of voltage, and they are disposed to extend across the opposite flat faces of the piezoelectric element 13. The ink chamber 11 includes a cylinder 14 in which ink is accommodated. The cylinder 14 is hermetically sealed by sealing member 18, and communicates with a nozzle 15. The cylinder 14 also communicates with an ink supply channel 16. The piston 12 and the piezoelectric element 13 are inserted into the cylinder 14 for movement in the axial direction. The piston 12 and the piezoelectric element 13 are fixed in alignment with each other. A plurality of heads each having the above-described arrangement are disposed in opposition to the surface of a recording sheet.

The operation of the piston-type head will be explained below. When a voltage which is beforehand applied across the electrodes 17a and 17b is removed, the piezoelectric element 13 expands in the lateral direction indicated by arrows 19 shown parallel to the electrodes 17a and 17b. The piston 12 is axially moved by the expansion of the piezoelectric element 13 to apply pressure to the ink in the cylinder 14, thereby expelling a jet of ink droplets from the nozzle 15. Each of the heads is made to independently perform the abovedescribed operation, thereby enabling information to be recorded.

In order to improve printing speed, it is desirable that the pitch of nozzles be made as narrow as possible so that a multiplicity of nozzles can be mounted. However, to reduce the nozzle pitch of the bimorph-type head shown in FIG. 1, if the dimension of the piezoelectric element 3 is reduced in the direction perpendicular to the surface of the sheet of FIG. 1, the amount of displacement of the piezoelectric element 3 is also reduced. If this amount of displacement is excessively reduced, it will be impossible to reliably expel a jet of ink droplets. In order to increase the amount of displacement of the piezoelectric element 3 whose dimension is reduced in the above-described manner, it may be applied a high voltage across the piezoelectric element 3. However, this method is accompanied by an increase in the cost of parts of the driving circuit.

In order to reduce the nozzle pitch of the piston-type head shown in FIG. 2, if the dimension of the piezoelectric element 13 is reduced in the direction perpendicular to the surface of the sheet of FIG. 2, the piezoelectric element 13 will be buckled due to the reduced rigidity thereof. As a result, it will be impossible to reliably expel a jet of ink droplets.

For the above-described reasons, a minimum of about 1 mm is required as the nozzle pitch of either type of head.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a head for an ink-jet printer which can enhance the mounting density of nozzles.

To achieve the above objects, according to the present invention, there is provided a head for an ink-jet printer including an elastic plate, a wall member defining an ink chamber together with the elastic plate, a nozzle provided in the wall member and communicated with the chamber, and a piezoelectric element. The piezoelectric element is shaped in a plate, has a side face, which defines a thickness of the piezoelectric element, and is disposed such that the side face faces the elastic plate. The piezoelectric element presses the elastic plate at the side face by an expansion due to a piezoelectric effect in a direction toward the side face. The head further includes electrodes attached to the piezoelectric element for applying an electric voltage across the piezoelectric element so as to cause the piezoelectric effect.

In the head of the present invention, the piezoelectric element presses the elastic plate at the side face when an electric voltage is applied to the piezoelectric element by use of the electrode. Then, the pressed elastic plate is deflected and applies a pressure to the ink in the ink chamber, thus producing a jet of ink droplets from the nozzle. The piezoelectric element shaped in a plate can be reduced in its thickness without reducing the amount of displacement, i.e. expansion of the piezoelectric element due to the piezoelectric effect in a direction toward the side face. Accordingly, the mounting density of the nozzle in the head can be increased by reducing the thickness of the piezoelectric element.

The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing the structure bimorph-type head for an ink-jet printer;

FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing the structure of a piston-type head for an ink-jet printer;

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing one embodiment the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective view showing the embodiment of FIG. 3 in exploded form; and

FIG. 5 is a schematic front elevational view showing another embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Preferred embodiments of the present invention will be described below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view showing one embodiment of a head for an ink-jet printer according to the present invention. FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective view showing the embodiment of FIG. 3 in exploded form.

Referring to FIG. 3 and 4, a head 20 for an ink-jet printer has a base block 21, an ink chamber wall 22 and a cover plate 23.

The base block 21 is made of, for example, lead titanate zirconate. As seen from FIGS. 3 and 4, the base block 21 includes a base plate portion 21a and frame member portions 21b each shaped in a Piezoelectric elements 24a and 24b are formed on the base block 21. Each of the piezoelectric elements 24a, 24b is shaped in a plate. The frame member portions 21b are arranged alternatively with and parallel to the piezoelectric elements 24a, 24b. In FIG. 4, the piezoelectric element 24a is provided with a pair of electrodes 25a which are disposed on both planes of the piezoelectric element 24a.

The piezoelectric element 24b is provided with a pair of electrodes 25b which are disposed on both planes of the piezoelectric element 24b.

Each of the piezoelectric elements 24a and 24b serves a peizoelectric lateral effect; that is to say, depending on a voltage applied across the electrodes 25a, the piezoelectric element 24a selectively expands and contracts in the direction indicated by an arrow B in FIG. 4 which is perpendicular to the electric field impressed by the electrodes 25a. In the same manner, the piezoelectric element 24b expands and contracts by use of the electrodes 25b.

The piezoelectric element 24a and 24b each have a depth of 8 mm, a thickness of 0.1 mm and a height of 0.5 mm. The base block 21 and the piezoelectric elements 24a and 24b are integrally formed by recessing a single plate of lead titanate zirconate. Namely, the base plate portion 21a and the frame member portions 21bof the base plate 21, and the piezoelectric elements 24a, 24b, are all formed from one body of piezoelectric element preformed by recessing as described later below in detail.

The ink chamber wall 22 is mounted on an elastic oscillation plate 26. The oscillation plate 26 is made of, for example, stainless steel glass or the like, while the ink chamber wall 22 is made of, for example, glass, resin or the like. The ink chamber wall 22 defined ink chambers 27a and 27b, and nozzles 28a and 28b are formed to communicate with the ink chambers 27a and 27b, respectively. The oscillation plate 26 is fixed to upper side faces 29a and 29b of the respective piezoelectric elements 24a and 24b. Each of the side faces 29a and 29b defines the thickness of each of the piezoelectric elements 24a and 24b shaped in a plate.

The cover plate 23 is provided with an ink supply opening 23a, and is made of, for example, glass. In the illustrated embodiment, the pitch of the nozzles 28a and 28b, which is indicated by a double-headed arrow A in FIG. 4, is selected to be 0.5 mm.

The operation of the head 20 will now be explained with reference to FIG. 4. When a voltage which is beforehand applied across the electrodes 25a is removed, the piezoelectric element 24a expands due to its piezoelectric lateral effect in the direction indicated by the arrow B. Thus, the side face 29a presses the oscillation plate 26 to expel a jet of ink droplets from the nozzle 28a. Since the piezoelectric element 24a has a configuration which extends in the depth-wise direction, it is possible to easily cause enough change in the volume of the ink chamber 27a.

The thickness of the piezoelectric-element 24a, i.e., the width of the side face 29a can be reduced without reducing the amount of displacement of the piezoelectric element 24a in the direction indicated by the arrow B.

The piezoelectric element 24b is operated, in the same manner as the piezoelectric element 24a, by use of the pair of electrodes 25b.

Another embodiment of a head for an ink-jet printer according to the present invention will be explained below. FIG. 5 is a schematic front elevational view showing a head 30 for an ink-jet printer according to the embodiment which will be described below.

In FIG. 5, the head 30 is provided with a base block 31 and a cover block 32.

The base block 31, i.e., the base plate portion 31a as well as the frame member portions 31b. are made of, for example, lead titanate zirconate. Piezoelectric elements 33a and 33b are formed on the base block 31. Each of the piezoelectric elements 33a, 33b is shaped in a plate. The piezoelectric element 33a is sandwiched between a pair of grounding electrodes 34a made of nickel. The grounding electrodes 34a are grounded. A signal electrode 35a made of nickel is interposed in the piezoelectric element 33a. Similarly, the piezoelectric element 33b is sandwiched between a pair of grounding electrodes 34b, and a signal electrode 35b made of nickel is interposed in the piezoelectric element 33b.

Each of the piezoelectric elements 33a and 33b serves a piezoelectric vertical effect; that is to say, depending on a voltage applied to the electrode 35a, the piezoelectric element 33a selectively expands and contracts in the direction indicated by an arrow C which is parallel to the electric field impressed by the electrode 35a and 34a.

In the same manner, the piezoelectric element 33b expands and contracts by use of the electrode 35b and 34b.

A method of producing the base block 31 will now be explained below.

A first green sheet of 200 μm thickness containing lead titanate zirconate is prepared, and nickel for forming a grounding electrode is deposited on the first green sheet by sputtering. A second green sheet containing lead titanate zirconate is placed on this deposited nickel layer. Then, nickel for forming a signal electrode is deposited on the second green sheet by sputtering. A third green sheet containing lead titanate zirconate is placed on this deposited nickel layer. Further, nickel for forming a grounding electrode is deposited on the third green sheet by sputtering. The product thus obtained is sintered and formed into the piezoelectric element 33a or 33b by dicing technique.

The cover block 32 is made of photosensitive glass. The cover block 32 is provided with ink chambers 36a and 36b formed by etching technique. The ink chambers 36a and 36b are formed to communicate with corresponding nozzles 37a and 37b. The ink chambers 36a and 36b are hermetically closed by an oscillation plate 38 made of glass.

The base-block 31 and the oscillation plate 38 are attached by an epoxy adhesive, i.e., the upper face of the frame member portions 31b are attached to the lower face of the oscillating plate 38 as seen from FIG. 5, while the cover block 32 and the oscillation plate 38 are attached by an ultraviolet-curing resin adhesive.

Next, the operation of the head 30 will be explained below. When a voltage is applied to the signal electrode 35a, the piezoelectric element 33a expands in the direction indicated by the arrow C. Thus, the upper side face (not shown) of the piezoelectric element 33a, which defines the thickness of the piezoelectric element 33a and to which the upper ground electrode 34a is attached, apply pressure to the oscillation plate 38 via the upper ground electrode 34a, thereby expelling a jet of ink droplets from the nozzle 37a.

As is apparent from the foregoing, according to either of the disclosed embodiments, the side face of a piezoelectric element which defines the thickness thereof is used to apply pressure to an oscillation plate. The side face which defines the thickness of the piezoelectric element can be made thin without reducing the amount of displacement of the piezoelectric element which is created by piezoelectric lateral and/or vertical effects. Accordingly, in the head of either of the above embodiments, the nozzle can be mounted at high density and the use of such a head therefore enables high-speed printers to be realized.

In each of the above-described embodiments, there are two sets of nozzles and corresponding piezoelectric elements provided in one head. However, more than two sets of nozzles and piezoelectric elements can be provided in one head in the same manner as the above-described embodiments.

Many widely different embodiments of the present invention may be constructed without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. It should be understood that the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described in this specification, except as defined in the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5302976 *May 27, 1992Apr 12, 1994Brother Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaLow-voltage actuatable ink droplet ejection device
US5410341 *Mar 9, 1992Apr 25, 1995Brother Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaDroplet jet device
US5475279 *Mar 23, 1995Dec 12, 1995Ngk Insulators, Ltd.Piezoelectric/electrostrictive actuator having integral ceramic base member and film-type piezoelectric/electrostrictive element (S)
US5491500 *Jan 19, 1994Feb 13, 1996Sharp Kabushiki KaishaInk jet head
US5534900 *Sep 11, 1991Jul 9, 1996Seiko Epson CorporationInk-jet recording apparatus
US5627576 *Nov 7, 1995May 6, 1997Sharp Kabushiki KaishaInk jet head using excited progressive waves
US5643379 *Mar 22, 1995Jul 1, 1997Ngk Insulators, Ltd.Preparing ceramic green sheets, firing, machining
US5761783 *Mar 28, 1995Jun 9, 1998Citizen Watch Co., Ltd.Ink-jet head manufacturing method
US5818482 *Aug 21, 1995Oct 6, 1998Ricoh Company, Ltd.Ink jet printing head
US5898446 *Feb 19, 1997Apr 27, 1999Canon Kabushiki KaishaAcoustic ink jet head and ink jet recording apparatus having the same
US5912684 *Feb 3, 1997Jun 15, 1999Seiko Epson CorporationPrinting apparatus
US5983471 *Jun 2, 1997Nov 16, 1999Citizen Watch Co., Ltd.Method of manufacturing an ink-jet head
US6039440 *Nov 18, 1997Mar 21, 2000Citizen Watch Co., Ltd.Ink-jet head
US6113218 *Jun 7, 1995Sep 5, 2000Seiko Epson CorporationInk-jet recording apparatus and method for producing the head thereof
US6117698 *Jun 17, 1998Sep 12, 2000Seiko Epson CorporationMethod for producing the head of an ink-jet recording apparatus
US6120124 *Sep 25, 1997Sep 19, 2000Seiko Epson CorporationInk jet head having plural electrodes opposing an electrostatically deformable diaphragm
US6145966 *May 9, 1997Nov 14, 2000Minolta Co., Ltd.Ink jet recording head
US6164759 *Aug 5, 1999Dec 26, 2000Seiko Epson CorporationMethod for producing an electrostatic actuator and an inkjet head using it
US6168263Oct 27, 1998Jan 2, 2001Seiko Epson CorporationInk jet recording apparatus
US6183070 *Oct 24, 1997Feb 6, 2001Seiko Epson CorporationInk jet recording head and process of manufacturing the ink jet recording head
US6203321 *Dec 9, 1999Mar 20, 2001Kevin HelmerBackflow prevention system in suctioning apparatus
US6223405 *Sep 9, 1997May 1, 2001Fujitsu LimitedMethod of manufacturing ink jet head
US6402823Jan 7, 2000Jun 11, 2002Ferro CorporationIndividual inks and an ink set for use in the color ink jet printing of glazed ceramic tiles and surfaces
US6918180 *Dec 17, 2001Jul 19, 2005Ricoh Printing Systems, Ltd.Comprises providing an actuator unit formed with a plurality of actuators extending in the same direction from abase portion, a diaphragm, an ink channel unit formed with a plurality of ink channels, dipping the tips of actuators into
US7264339 *Oct 22, 2003Sep 4, 2007Brother Kogyo Kabushiki KaishaDroplet ejecting apparatus
EP0608879A1 *Jan 27, 1994Aug 3, 1994Canon Kabushiki KaishaInk jet apparatus
WO2014012672A1Jul 19, 2013Jan 23, 2014Pi Ceramic GmbhActuator device
Classifications
U.S. Classification347/70
International ClassificationB41J2/045, B41J2/055, B41J2/14
Cooperative ClassificationB41J2/14274, B41J2002/14379
European ClassificationB41J2/14D3
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